Scott Willis

Host, Reporter, Producer

I’ve always been enamored with the intimacy of radio.  It’s so personal.  It forces you to listen…and listen only.  No visual distractions.  I grew up listening to mostly top 40 radio in Detroit, with no shortage of entertaining DJ’s.  As a teenager, I discovered the area’s all news station.  I loved knowing what was going on, and the intensity with which they told stories.  I often wondered what it would be like to be the first to know what was happening, and then tell others.  Maybe that’s why I pursued a career in news. 

I would go on to serve as an intern at that all-news station, and it was amazing and maybe a little overwhelming to see what it took to put out a constant stream of news.  But something was missing.  It wasn’t until after I graduated from college that I actually discovered Detroit’s public radio station at my alma mater.  What a difference!  You had time to write and tell engaging, meaningful stories, to be creative, all without the pressure to constantly crank out the news.  Quality over quantity.  That’s when I knew public radio was for me.  I was hooked.

I would hone my skills on and off for almost three years at WDET as an intern under the tutelage of a patient Assistant News Director. I produced daily stories for newscasts, but also was given the privilege of producing long-form features on topics that interested me, and that people knew very little about.  Now THAT was cool.  Right up my alley.  What budding reporter could ask for more?

I landed here in Syracuse in June 2001.  Today, I’ve come full circle, and now teach the craft to more than a dozen student reporters per week.  We work hard to choose informative stories, find the most engaging sound, and edit copy for clarity and accuracy. 

Outside of work, I spend time with my wife and little boy.  We like to take walks, travel, and read.  When I can, I’ll hop on my bike for a quick ride.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the honor and privilege of bringing WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners the news of the day during All Things Considered.  Thanks for listening.

Ways to Connect

If Governor Cuomo and lawmakers hold a special session next week, they are likely to consider whether to allow ride sharing services like Uber and Lyft to operate outside of New York City.  

Ride sharing services have stepped up their lobbying and ad campaigns, in hopes of winning approval to expand into upstate and on Long Island by the end of the year, including a one million dollar campaign by Uber.  The ad in part says, “...there’s one thing New Yorkers really want for Christmas this year. And it isn’t a one horse sleigh.  It's the convenience and safety of Uber”.

Federal Highway Administration /

As everyone anticipates what design will be adopted for the I-81 project through Syracuse, one Onondaga County Legislator already predicts how the construction will impact motorists.  John Dougherty wants to formally ask the Governor and the State to make the construction project easier for motorists and communities.

"What I'd like to see is tolls eliminated between exits 39 and 34-A," Dougherty said.  "So anyone getting on or off between any of those exits would simply not pay a toll.” @NYSComptroller

  The state’s Comptroller has a plan to reduce corruption in the awarding of economic development contracts that has led to the indictment of several former associates of Governor Cuomo.

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli was taken out of the review process for some state economic development contracts in a state law passed in 2011, and since then a former top aide to Governor Cuomo and a former key State University official, along with seven others, have been charged with bribery and bid rigging, among other crimes.

Jason Chen/WAER News

Researchers at the Syracuse Center of Excellence are working with Carrier Corp. on whether indoor environments could have impacts on human health and performance. Center Executive Director Ed Bogucz said by controlling factors such as temperature and humidity in buildings, the air quality affects people's productivity.


Onondaga County’s health commissioner and the American Cancer Society say a recent report issued by the U.S. Surgeon General confirms that more teens are using e-cigarettes and likely getting addicted to nicotine.  Bill Sherman is Vice President of Government Relations with the cancer society out of Albany.   He calls the report a watershed moment that indicates the potential harm of e-cigarettes.

A former NASA administrator now holding the prestigious title of University Professor at Syracuse University is recalling John Glenn as a remarkable, iconic figure as both an astronaut and senator.  Sean O'Keefe frequently crossed paths with Glenn over their long careers in public service. 

But even before O'Keefe knew Glenn on a professional level, he remembers being awestruck as a young boy when Glenn made that historic first trip around earth in 1962. 

Nate Bellavia / WAER News

Central New Yorkers can expect better emergency medical care after a several hundred-thousand-dollar investment by American Medical Response. The company acquired Rural Metro last year and is now expanding Syracuse emergency medical service facilities and upgrading equipment.  AMR's East Region CEO Tom McEntee  says EMS improvements are not only AMR’s efforts but also from the support of other health care providers.

Gov. Cuomo's flickr page

Central New York walked away Thursday with just over $62 million  from the regional economic development awards, placing it midpack among regions across the state.  In all, the state awarded more than $700 million to 10 regions.  It’s the sixth year the state has used the formula in an effort to revitalize upstate’s economy.  The presentation was complete with a video highlighting each region’s emerging strengths. 

Gov. Cuomo's flickr page

A long term energy plan by the Cuomo Administration that includes a nearly $8 billion subsidy to two upstate nuclear power plants is being challenged from both ends of the political spectrum, and a lawsuit has been filed to try to stop the deal.    

Scott Willis / WAER News

Onondaga County’s Republican Elections Commissioner says she’d welcome many of the state attorney general’s proposals to improve voter access in New York.  This year’s presidential primary seemed to expose the shortcomings of the state’s restrictive voting laws.

Commissioner Helen Kiggins Walsh says most of the complaints to the board of elections in the weeks leading up to and on primary day were from voters who wanted to participate in the election…but couldn’t.